Owning a dirt bike means having a garage stuffed with spare parts including tires.
Granted, most riders have a handful of oil filters at the ready and usually wait on new tires until the current set wears down. But don't consider storing tires a bad idea (especially when we have a worthwhile sale) especially if you ride various terrain like sand dunes then you certainly need a different set.
However, unlike the fuel filters, you can't house tires somewhere on your garage shelf for an extended period of time. At least you shouldn't. Light, air, temperature changes, time and even how you store them all help to degrade the tire. If you have spare tires or switch your tires depending on season, follow these tips to keep the tires fresh and working properly the next time you set out for a ride.
Clean Used Tires
Obviously, new tires do not need cleaning but if you switch out your MX tires when the season ends for trail or dune tires clean them before storing. You can wipe down the used tires, once cleaned, with SC1 or WD40 to help "moisturize" and add a layer of protection for the long months ahead but no actual tire preservation exists to keep tires from degrading.
Avoid the Elements
The rubber compound that makes the tire does not like extreme temperature changes or sunlight. Don't put them outside behind the garage somewhere. Store tires in a cool, dry area away from temperature extremes and definitely away from the sun. Air tends to break down tires too, not nearly as quick as temperature changes or sunlight but storing tires in an airtight plastic bag helps not only with moisture issues but delays further breakdown.
Mechanic's Note: Use a large lawn and leaf type bag to store your tires. Push out as much as air as possible and use a zip tie to close and/or fold the opening underneath the tire when stored.
Store Tires Correctly
You place your dirt bike on a stand to get the weight off your tires so don't store them the same way. Place tires down flat, one on top of the other. Once a month or so, switch their positions. If you have spare tires mounted on wheels (likely if you ride dunes) then store the tires upright but rotate them every month or so. Storage position probably ranks the lowest in terms of what degrades tires fastest so if you need to position tires on the tread, simply rotate them once a month.
You can also hang tires using a hanger designed for suspending tires off the ground - ideal for tires mounted to wheels. Don't hammer a large nail into the wall and hang your tires that way.
Check the Date Code
Unfortunately you can do all of the above but eventually time wins. Check the four-digit date code located on the sidewall of the tire, e.g. (3218). The first two numbers indicate the week and the last two numbers indicate the year - the 32nd week of 2018. You can find the numbers sometime in parenthesis but usually stamped in a recessed casing different than all the other numbers.
How Long Do Tires Last?
We won't ignore the argument on how long dirt bike tires last. Everyone has opinions ranging from using the tire within a year after the printed date to even five years. A fresh tire has shine, looks greasy and flexes unlike an older tire that has lost some luster and feels hard. You can still ride on old tires, properly stored, just as long as cracking has not developed along the knobs or sidewall.
Check out these other tire related articles to get you up to speed:
- Dirt Bike Tires & Wheels Explained - Sizes, Pressure, Treads & Tools
- When To Replace Dirt Bike Tires
- Tips for Removing and Replacing a Dirt Bike Tire
Written By: AndrewT